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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS might seem trite, especially as you age. But think again. When you look at them, resolutions are goals. And when you have goals, you have purpose.

Studies in the past have hinted at the benefit of purpose for older adults. But a study published in 2019 actually shows that having purpose may extend your life.

Data from 7,000 Americans ages 51 and 61 explored the relationship between mortality and purpose. Purpose was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals.”

People without strong purpose were more than twice as likely to die during the study period, regardless of income, gender, race or education. Purpose, it seems, is better at attaining longevity than reducing drinking, stopping smoking and conversely, even better than exercising regularly.

Full article at US News

DALLAS–Music is something many of us can relate to—it helps us reminisce, express ourselves, and it can provide comfort and a much-needed distraction. For these reasons and more, music therapy is an integral piece for those navigating life’s final passage and for their grieving family members.

Jennefer Dixon is a music therapist for Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH), and she witnesses the benefits of music therapy every day. She visits patients in their homes Monday through Friday, patients at the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center on Wednesdays, and she provides the music during Faith Kids and Camp Faith. Each situation is unique, and her techniques vary to accommodate the needs of patients and/or loved ones.

“Music therapy is the use of music and musical activities to care for patients and their families who are experiencing physical or emotional setbacks,” said Dixon. “I visit many of my patients in their homes. One patient really enjoys when I play older songs like ‘Clementine’ and ‘Home on the Range’ because her husband used to sing them to her, and they would sing them in the car with their kids when traveling on family road trips. The songs help her reminisce and recall happy moments she shared with her family. Another woman is a retired music teacher who sang in the opera. She lost her speech and ability to communicate—but listening to music still brings her a lot of joy. She lights up when I come to visit, and I’ve noticed certain songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ really enhance her mood.”

Full article at Senior Living News

Two mornings a week, a van arrives at the Escondido, Calif., home of Mario Perez and takes him to a new senior center in this northern San Diego County town, where he eats a hot lunch, plays cards and gets physical therapy to help restore the balance he lost after breaking both legs in a fall.

If he wants, he can shower, get his hair cut or have his teeth cleaned. Those twice-weekly visits are the highlights of the week for Perez, a 65-year-old retired mechanic who has diabetes and is legally blind.

“The people here are very human, very nice,” he said. “I’m gonna’ ask for three days a week.”

Full story at News-Medical

Four months after treating them, Yasuhiro Shiga, MD, PhD, checked on his rats. Walking into the lab, he carried minimal expectations. Treating spinal cord injuries with stem cells had been tried by many people, many times before, with modest success at best. The endpoint he was specifically there to measure — pain levels — hadn’t seemed to budge in past efforts.

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t see any real change in pain behavior in any of the groups,” said Shiga, a visiting scholar at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, apologetically, as he walked into the office of his supervisor, Wendy Campana, PhD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Program in Neuroscience.

But, to Campana’s surprise, he continued, almost as an after-thought.

“Although … some rats are actually really moving.”

The difference for those rats was this: Before delivering them into the spinal cord injury site, Shiga and Campana had conditioned stem cells with a modified form of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug commonly used to treat non-hemorrhagic stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

Migraine headache is the third most common disease in the world affecting about 1 in 7 people. More prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined, migraine headaches are among the most common and potentially debilitating disorders encountered by primary health care providers. Migraines also are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

There are effective prescription medications available to treat acute migraine headaches as well as to prevent recurrent attacks. Nonetheless, in the United States many patients are not adequately treated for reasons that include limited access to health care providers and lack of health insurance or high co-pays, which make expensive medications of proven benefit unaffordable. The rates of uninsured or underinsured individuals have been estimated to be 8.5 percent nationwide and 13 percent in Florida. Furthermore, for all patients, the prescription drugs may be poorly tolerated or contraindicated.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine have proposed aspirin as a possible option for consideration by primary care providers who treat the majority of patients with migraine. Their review includes evidence from 13 randomized trials of the treatment of migraine in 4,222 patients and tens of thousands of patients in prevention of recurrent attacks.

Full story at Science Daily

SENIORS LIVING IN Northeastern states are among the most likely to lack sufficient financial resources to cover their day-to-day needs, according to a new report. Half of America’s senior population that lives alone – and nearly a quarter of those living in two-person households – struggle to make ends meet.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts—Boston’s Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging, suggests Vermont, New York and Massachusetts have the largest percentages of seniors at least 65 years of age who don’t have enough income to cover their basic needs – defined by their ability to cover necessary expenses such as housing, food, transportation and health care without government support programs, loans or gifts.

Full story at US News

About 10% of the world population suffers from migraine headaches, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. To alleviate migraine pain, people are commonly treated with opioids. But, while opioid treatment can provide temporary pain relief for episodic migraines, prolonged use can increase the frequency and severity of painful migraines.

Researchers have tried to understand how opioids cause this paradoxical increase in pain for a decade, but the mechanism remained elusive — until now.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues discovered that a peptide — small chains of amino acids that can regulate many behaviors and brain signaling pathways — links together migraine pain and pain induced by opioid overuse.

Full story at Science Daily

Middle-aged men who maintain their muscle mass may lower their risk of heart disease as they get older, a new study suggests.

Beginning in the mid-30s, muscle begins to decline by about 3% each decade. Previous studies found that muscle mass is associated with heart attack/stroke risk, but those studies focused on people with heart disease.

In this new study, the researchers wanted to examine if muscle mass in middle age might be associated with long-term heart health in people without heart disease.

The study included more than 1,000 men and women, aged 45 and older, who were followed for 10 years. During that time, 272 participants developed heart disease, including stroke and minor stroke.

Full story at US News

Up to one in five patients treated for idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus, iNPH, also develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. The researchers were able to predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease by using the Disease State Index, DSI, that combines patient-specific data from various sources. The results were published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In iNPH, the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is disturbed for an unknown reason, leading to a slightly elevated brain pressure and dilation of the brain ventricles. Symptoms of NPH include gait deviations, impaired short-term memory and urinary incontinence. Patients with iNPH often have changes in brain that are related to Alzheimer’s disease.

The study followed patients with iNPH after they had received treatment for their disease. They were treated with shunt surgery, in which excessive CSF is led from the brain ventricles to the abdominal cavity by using a CSF shunt. Shunted NPH patients who had undergone brain tissue biopsy in connection with their surgery were selected for the study. The objective of the biopsy was to detect changes that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Last week, ACL represented the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the Access and Mobility for All Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). In addition to speeches and panel discussions, the summit featured technology demonstrations by local Assistive Technology Act programs and the approval of a strategic plan for the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) – an interagency partnership to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies funding transportation services.

Of particular significance to ACL’s grantees and partners, the summit included an announcement of new funding to promote inclusive transportation and a discussion about harnessing ACL and HHS program funds to meet “matching” requirements for several grants from the USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

New Funding Opportunity 

FTA has announced the Mobility for All Pilot Program. The $3.5 million grant program is available to states and tribes who can partner with community-based organizations as sub-applicants, The program will fund projects that enhance transportation connections to jobs, education, and health services for older adults, people with disabilities, and people with low income. 

Full story at Administration for Community Living